Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|7 мая 2013 года.|
Tarasenko makes his NHL playoff debut // St. Louis Post - Dispatch
O'Neill, DanView Profile.
LOS ANGELES * This has been eventful 10 months for Valadimir Tarasenko.
The period began last June with him agreeing to come to America and play for the Blues. No sooner did he arrive in town than the NHL went into labor lockout mode. Nice to see you, Vladie, thanks for coming.
Tarasenko packed his things back up and went home to Russia, where he starred for St. Petersburg SKA in the Kontinental League. The lockout was lifted in January and Tarasenko flew back to St. Louis and started the season with a bang, His scored twice in a rousing 6-0 victory over Detroit on opening night.
Tarasenko had five goals and 10 points in his first eight games. He was a dangerous threat, everything Blues fans hoped he would be. Then came a night in Colorado, when Mark Olver caught Tarasenko with his head down.
The hit caused a concussion and put the 21-year-old winger on injured reserve for nearly a month of missed games. Tarasenko similarly suffered a concussion in a KHL game last October. It was his second in five months.
Tarasenko returned in mid-March and did not miss another regular-season start. But when the playoffs started a week ago today, Tarasenko was in the press box, a healthy scratch. It was the first time in his NHL career he was wearing a tie instead of jersey No. 91.
But on Monday, Tarasenko was excited to welcome yet the latest development in this roller-coaster first year of NHL life his playoff debut.
"I'm very excited," Tarasenko said before the game. "I love playing with these guys. I'm ready."
There was an obvious reason for the switch, which made fourth-line winger Adam Cracknell a healthy scratch-off. The consideration had nothing to do with Cracknell's performance. He has been an effective player in the series and was among the three "Star of the Game" introductions after Game 1 at Scottrade Center.
Cracknell knew the reason. "I didn't take it as a reflection on me," he said. "Vladie's sat a little while now and we've been struggling a little offensively. So you put a guy in there who maybe can help you offensively. Vladie looked good. I thought he played well."
Cracknell added: "You just always want to be ready when you're called upon. At the end of the day, you just want the team to succeed right now."
Coming into Game 4, the Blues had scored just three regulation goals in the first three games of the series. They doubled that in Game 4.
"Until the injury, Vladie had been a very good player," Hitchcock said. "He came back a little bit tentative from the injury. But I think when you have a player that contributes like he does, who is as strong on the puck, as determined as he is and as big as he is, he's an asset we can use."
Tarasenko took Cracknell's place in an energy role. But he also provides insurance. The Blues have several forwards who are banged up at this point. Should one of them tweak an injury or have to leave the game Hitchcock has another offensive trigger to pull in Tarasenko.
The Blues' mentor made the decision after considerable contemplation, enforced by his conversation with Tarasenko during a Sunday practice. Hitchcock came away satisfied Tarasenko has been keeping good notes.
"I think (Tarasenko) saw the level of intensity, he understands it and he's been a good player," Hitchcock said.
What Tarasenko has assimilated and what he can apply remains to be seen. As Hitchcock alluded, he was not the same player when he returned from his injury, which was his second concussion in less than five months.
Tarasenko's English is improving but it remains limited. He tried to explained the sensation.
"A little bit, I missed hockey sense," he said. "It was a hard time for me and our guys helped me a lot the doctors and coaches.
"I tried to come back faster, but sometimes it takes a long time."
Perhaps the work is still in progress. When he returned to action, Tarasenko had assists in his first two games, against Anaheim and Vancouver. However, over his final 19 regular-season games, Tarasenko scored just two goals and three assists. Both of the goals came in a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles on March 28.
That said, Tarasenko said he is feeling no ill-effects from the head injury in February. "I feel perfect," Tarasenko said.
Tarasenko's time was limited. He played seven shifts and just under four minutes through the first two periods.
But now that he's been baptized, maybe he can help the Blues reclaim the upper hand when they return to St. Louis.
Credit: Dan O'Neill; firstname.lastname@example.org